Archives for category: HAWMC

Today’s HAWMC challenge is to select a theme song.

Here is my theme song. It’s an interesting choice for me, a fairly non-religious person, but somewhat spiritual I suppose. At least I believe in the power of internal thought to calm. I think we take meaning from events and use them to make sense of confusion.  Early on in the breast cancer adventure, I found myself sharing dates of importance with my mother’s experience of breast cancer more than 20 years ago. I wrote about that earlier – you can read it here….

I’ve been re-watching the TV series “The West Wing”, and there’s an episode where one of the characters is talking to his rabbi about the death penalty. In the background, a woman is singing a prayer, the “Hashkiveinu”.

It’s a beautiful prayer, asking for peace. Here is a link to the article where I found the text – there are many other links too…

“Hashkiveinu Adonai Elokeinu l’shalom,v’ha-amideinu malkeinu l’chayim. Ufros aleinu sukkat sh’lomecha.V’tahkneinu b’eitzah tovah mil’fanechah.V’hoshiyeinu l’mah-ahn Sh’mecha.  

Lay us down to sleep in peace,Eternal One,our God,and raise
us up, our Ruling Source, to renewed life. Spread over us the shelter of Your peace. Set us aright with good counsel from Your holy Presence, and save us for the sake of Your Name. Shield us, remove from us any foe, plague, sword, famine,and woe. Remove any spiritual impediments, either from the past or the future, and shelter us in the shadow of Your wings. For You, O God, are a gracious and compassionate Ruling Force. Safeguard our coming and our going for life and peace from now to eternity.” 

Here’s a version from a shul in Pittsburgh. You can also find the West Wing clip –  episode 14, season 1.

I love the way the music sounds, mystical and minor, beautiful.  I love that it refers to a gracious and compassionate God, that it focuses on the present and asks for peace and rest.  And that’s something we can all use.

Best conversation of the week! (HAWMC 7 or 8 – I’ve lost count ;-p)

M and I (M is my husband) are in the car – I’m taking him to the train so that he can catch a plane and go off to a conference: 😦

Various soppy goodbyes

And then, M looks at my sleeve and says

“Your sweater is on inside out”

“Oh yeah, so typical.” I roll my eyes and laugh.

“It just proves we were made for each other” (he’s been known to wear clothing backwards too).

And that’s it – no criticism, just something to laugh at and enjoy and appreciate. Why I love him so much. ❤

Keep calm and carry on. Write (and create) your own Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Can you make it about your condition? Then go to
( and actually make an image to post to your blog.


Day 9 of the HAWMC
poster text – stay real and enjoy stuff


Day 10 of HAWMC – Letter to myself at 16… (yeah, ok I did it at day 8)

Don’t worry so much, although  it’s your nature to worry. And worry fuels your curiosity, and your inquisitiveness. So worry is a good thing. But still, you don’t need to worry quite so much.   There is a lot to look forward in this life – in your life, and you’ll do a lot of things to be proud of. Don’t worry about doing everything. No one can do everything. But try to get things done – albeit imperfectly. And focus on now. It’s the best place to be.

Don’t stress about your diet so much. Don’t try to loose weight and then eat when you don’t succeed. Balance your diet the best you can and go outside a lot. Walk, walk, walk. Drink water. Don’t let what people say about your weight bother you. I know it’s hard and it’s hurtful, but there is more to you than that. Don’t even worry about loosing just 5 pounds. Don’t eat when you feel bad, either. Learn to eat when you’re hungry. But it’s not a failure – it’s who you are.

Write as much as you can, and think. Enjoy your thoughts.  Allow yourself to be amazed by beautiful things, saddened by unkindness, untruth, wrong.

You have some very good friends, don’t worry about having a lot of mediocre friends.

It’s so hard to be a teenager, so much awkwardness. Remember that you are a good person, smart and kind. You’ll do good things. You’ll make people laugh, too. Don’t worry about things being perfect either. Nothing, and no one is ever perfect.

You’ll be happy. Remember to laugh and smile.

It’s hard to learn to love yourself, but it’s a good goal to work toward.

Check back, I’ll probably add some as I think of them….

Make your threats into

Opportunities and you

Will feel much better

Ekphrasis Post. Go to and write a post inspired by the image. Can you link it to your health focus? Don’t forget to post the image!


You may have to click on the image – I’m still trying to figure out linking stuff.  It’s a beautiful coastal shot of waves breaking on a gorgeous day.  You can almost hear the waves, smell the sea and feel the spray on your face. It’s freeing….beautiful in all its abandon. Rhythmic, as the waves come in and go out. The sea is amazing, mesmerizing. There  are still places where you can be overwhelmed,stunned by the beauty of the world. And this beauty has the capacity to take you our of your pain, discomfort, perhaps for a little while and restore you. Even though you are merely an observer, surrounding yourself with beautiful images is a wonderful thing. Going to a place of beauty is even better if you can – but if you can’t, imagination is a wonderful thing.

I try to use my imagination every day – it is restorative, restful, and it helps me recover.

I write about my health because… Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping.

The smart ass answer is that I write about my health because it’s what consumes me at the moment.  But of course, there’s more to it than that.

I write in general because it’s good for me. Writing helps me organize my thoughts, it helps me think through problems, and create associations in my head, thus strengthening those associations. Writing is therapy – writing something out – even if the topic is upsetting – helps me to deal with it, lining up my thoughts and ideas, giving  me a chance to organize those thoughts and ideas. By nature I am not an organized person. My brain works in a seriously non-linear fashion, and I don’t go from point A to B to C. My working memory is wonderfully  funky. Indeed, it was funky before I got breast cancer and now it’s a little funkier after stress and chemo and probably menopause. And who knows what these meds I take do to my working memory- meds that stop the production of estrogen in my body to reduce my risk of a breast cancer recurrence.  As much as I love the erratic funkiness of my working memory, sometimes I do need to get to the point.  So I write for selfish reasons. I also write because I love word play – and I like to see what I can do with the absurdity of life. My life, and the lives around me.

Sometimes I’m angry and writing helps me work through my anger. Sometimes I’m anxious – writing helps there too.

I write about breast cancer because I’ve had my own personal experience  and it flows easily.  There’s so much to say about it – how we get through the medical bits, how we feel, how we frame cancer in daily life.  We are dependent on philanthropy, governments and researchers to cure and improve treatments for this and other cancers. We need to raise our voices to direct how those resources will be used. I feel strongly about other topics too –  I feel very strongly about bullying people based on size, treating people of size as though they are not quite human, stupid, unable to make decisions for themselves and some pox upon humanity. So I will speak up about attempts to make fun of, denigrate or provide useless diet advice to people based on size. This is not funny, it’s mean, and the scientific basis doesn’t hold. I don’t like it when people with mental illnesses are treated pretty much the same way.I also write about mental illnesses too – they are poorly understood and stigmatized. I have a lot to say about anxiety. And variations in learning – I have what we call Attention Deficit, and it’s a major player in my wonderfully funky working memory.  I write about things that are close to me because writing flows, and well, it’s fast and easy. But I suppose I also have something to say in this regard.

Even if you are well organized, I think writing can help you too. You don’t have to write well, you just have to write down what you’re feeling. We all face stressors – health, family, financial, occupational – writing –  in private – can help you sort your feelings and your options. To write publicly and to share your thoughts is also pretty great – who knows, you might help someone.  And someone might help you – new ideas! Writing is probably the most inexpensive, and yet most personally tailored therapy you’ll ever find. Especially if, for some reason, you lack a good therapist, don’t believe in one, or don’t have coverage. Which brings us back to health, the need for universal coverage, including mental illnesses.

In the meantime, though, there is writing. ;-p

Superpower Day. If you had a superpower – what would it be? How would you use it?

So many superpowers from which to choose. Although, I suppose I would like to have the magic nasty cell detector. As soon as a “normal” cell becomes something else, I’d like to detect it and kill it. Whoosh!  This way, I would be able to find cancer when it’s a single cell and make it stop. Maybe it would work on other stuff too, like infections or allergic reactions – identify wonky cells and whoosh! them away.  I guess it could be a sort of funky DNA detector. And it would have other uses too…..

Cancer, that’s a given, maybe infections and allergies. But maybe also at the point of fertilization, cell division, it would right the wonky dividing cells and as if by magic, everything would be ok. It would also be nice if not only to detect wonky cells, the funky DNA detector makes it possible to regenerate cells. I know! Like the original Star Trek when Dr McCoy would point that little buzzy thing at you and cure all manner of ills.

But for now, we just have to take care of ourselves and hope. 😉

Quotation Inspiration. Find a quote that inspires you (either positively or negatively) and free write about it for 15 minutes.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana – Groucho Marx

So what does this have to do with health? It makes me laugh, and laughing is good. It’s an inconsistent, absurd thought that often takes me out of despair, and into curiosity, wonderment and makes me want to solve a problem. Sort of meditative for the non-ascetic, western girl.

I often try to find the silliness, the absurdity in my world. It reminds me that I am human, with the ability to think and to reason, and sometimes, I am a little in charge. A very little. Or at least I think so – I can always re-think a problem.

I let myself feel anxiety, grief, sadness, anger, confusion, general pissed-offess (but I try not to direct it inward). I try really hard never to point that pistol of blame back at myself.

I don’t believe that things happen for a reason. Crap happens and we construct the reason to make sense of the crap. Sometimes we have the opportunity to turn crap into an adventure or a prison. That’s what makes us human.

Hmmm… might come back to this one later. It’s a bit odd….

Health Time Capsule. Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?

Hmmm…. I’d have two big piles of things.  First, body image, weight and health. In 100 years, I really hope we can express appreciation for ourselves, the way we look. No fat talk, no body hate.   I’d have a lot of dieting crap, showing that diets usually fail, and negative fat talk, showing how pervasive it is that we speak negatively about our bodies.  And then I’d pull together all of the evidence for Health at Every Size –  the idea that no matter what your weight, you can improve your health without thinking about your weight, but by making choices about what you eat, moving, and learning to love your body at whatever size. In fact, I’d have a copy of this blog post that I saw today which states this far more eloquently than I can.….

The second pile would be all I’ve learned about breast cancer, my experiences and current standards of care. I’d have something about the importance of learning as much as you can, alleviating anxiety, and being hopeful. And I’d include something that differentiates between magical and positive thinking, like this:

The thing that kills women with breast cancer is a metastasis. Why do they occur? How do we identify those at risk? How to stop them! In 2112, I hope we’d have an answer.

I hope in 2112 we know more about prevention, detection and treatment.

I hope people would say “What’s a diet?” and  “We know a lot more about preventing all sorts of cancers!”

Hey, 2112 is a palindrome, like the word boob. Palindromes are cool,  breast cancer, not.